Michael Wolff, the author of Fire and Fury gave an interview to a site called theSkimm in which he was asked about his insinuation that Nikki Haley was having an affair with President Trump. Instead of stepping away from the controversy, Wolff claimed Haley had “embraced” his sleazy rumor-mongering. From the Examiner:
When theSkimm confronted Wolff about Haley being “distraught” about the rumor, he brushed off her comments.
“Or she seems to me — I would say she seems to have embraced it,” Wolff said. “All she does is hammer on this fact. I mean, if I were being accused of something, and I am not accusing her of anything. She hasn’t tried to avoid this, let’s say.”
Let’s back up a bit and see how this whole story got started. Wolff appeared on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week and suggested there was one blockbuster claim he’d been forced to leave out of the book because he couldn’t nail it down. According to Wolff, Trump was having an affair with someone. And also according to Wolff, he included hints in the book which could help the reader figure out exactly who was involved in the affair. Wolff said, “Now that I’ve told you, when you hit that paragraph, you’re gonna say, ‘Bingo.’”
Within hours, people were pointing to a passage suggesting Trump was spending a lot of time with Nikki Haley on Air Force One. Haley responded by calling the insinuations “disgusting” and “offensive” and pointed out that Wolff had his facts wrong about the time she has spent with Trump on Air Force One (only once, with other people in the room). Haley told Politico that Wolff’s comments were akin to claiming she’d slept her way to the top.
Even the New York Times published an opinion piece attacking Wolff and the media for allowing his ugly smear to go (mostly) unchecked. Author Bari Weiss wrote:
For years, the fundamental complaint of the right in the culture wars has been that the left is hypocritical, and the Nikki Haley episode perfectly confirms the point: A prominent Republican woman is smeared. The author who does the smearing is celebrated by all the A-listers…
So with all of that context in mind, now go back and re-read Wolff’s comments. In what way has Haley “embraced” his insinuation of an affair? Answer: She hasn’t. On the contrary, she has denounced it as false and rejected it as offensive. And yet, somehow, all Wolff seems to have gleaned from her response is that she “hasn’t tried to avoid this.” What is she supposed to do? Let Wolff’s insinuation go unchallenged? Then he’d likely be saying she hadn’t denied it.
Michael Wolff has a good thing going. His book is selling like the proverbial hotcakes and he is making the rounds of various media outlets and receiving applause from the resistance. All he has to do to keep the ride going is not insinuate things which, by his own admission, he can’t back up. But he seems to be stuck on stupid for reasons I can’t fathom. He’s doubling down on this unsupported insinuation in a way that makes him look like a complete ass and a shoddy reporter. That’s not going to help book sales, especially with women who, though they may not love Nikki Haley or the Trump administration, know a smear when they hear one.